What’s Wrong with Me? is an overtly religious book which aims to provide girls with a better understanding of how to have a personal relationship with God.
The tone of the book comes across as judgmental in places or, at least, possibly too judgmental for some, considering that it is meant to reach out to girls who have low self-esteem, body issues and struggles with fitting in. To blatantly say, “If you’re not married to the person you’re having sex with, you’re sinning—no way around it,” may be doctrinally accurate, but it also spreads a message of condemnation, no matter how careful the author is to deconstruct the statement.
Other parts of the book include outright contradictions. The chapter on dating violence clearly states that physical abuse is not to be tolerated for any reason, yet the author gives two separate and unapologetic accounts in which she was, in fact, the one who initiated the violence and therefore lost her boyfriend. Further, as the author attempts to make a convincing argument against per-marital sex due to the health risks, she admits to having contracted three separate STDs from different sexual partners but claims to have been “treated and cured” of all three, even though at least one of those she mentions is not curable.
Some of the Scripture and references are geared to a readership that is familiar with Christian teachings. It would also be helpful if there had been footnotes on some of the statistics that are peppered throughout the book, in order to make them more credible in the minds of the readers and afford them the opportunity to verify.
Aside from the issues mentioned above, this book still constitutes a necessary reference. It would make a great jumping off point for meaningful dialogues, especially for girls who doubt their own place in the world. The books that the author references—from experts like Suze Orman and Shaun Robinson—can easily provide more clarity and insight for the readers.
All flaws and errors aside, What’s Wrong with Me? is a poignant book and much-needed resource for teens, especially girls, and African-American girls in particular. That said, there are aspects of the book that could be deal-breakers for some readers.
Reviewed Mercy Pilkington for IndieReader